Mission Australia 2016 Youth Survey download

Mental health issues are now one of the three leading subjects of concern for Australian teenagers, according to Mission Australia’s 15th annual youth survey, released this week.

Concerns about mental health, registered by 20.6% of the 21,846 respondents to the online survey joined the other main issues of concern, alcohol and drugs (28.7%), and discrimination and equity (27%).

“Physical and mental health are critical to the wellbeing of young people, their ability to pursue future ambitions and to successfully navigate their transition into adulthood,” the report on the 2016 survey noted.

“It is important that young people have access to age-appropriate physical and mental health services and that they have the opportunity to participate in health-promoting activities such as sports.”

Mission Australia CEO Catherine Yeomans said, “It concerns me that mental health continues to grow as an issue of concern for Australia. There are some wonderful youth mental health programs and a range of support services.

Physiotherapist and researcher Jennie Hewitt with Feros Care Wommin Bay residents (l-r) Cleo Bell, Julie Knox and Bren Catchpole, and USyd physiotherapy students Dom Dagher and Chelsea Clark.

A PhD research study being undertaken by physiotherapist Jennie Hewitt is showing that tailored exercise programs can deliver significant benefits for elderly residents in aged care facilities.

The study, the first of its kind ever conducted in Australia or internationally for residents of aged care, has shown improvements of up to 50 per cent in mobility and falls-reduction in participants doing a program focusing on resistance and balance exercises.

A total of 221 people aged 70 to 101 years (mean age: 86) have been involved so far. The results are immensely encouraging, according to Ms Hewitt, who is the Positive Living Coordinator for Feros Care in the Northern Rivers.

Celebrating new federal funding for mental health care and D&A support were (rear) Terry McGrath Namatjira Haven Team Leader, Vicky Bardon Namatjira Haven Board Member and Mental Health First Aid Training Mentor, Dian Edwards Namatjira Haven Team Leader, Kevin Hogan Federal MP for Page, Jeff Richardson Rekindling the Spirit Service Manager; (front) Colin Marsh Namatjira Haven Mental Health Trainer, Sharmaine Keogh Rekindling the Spirit Counsellor, Roger Bartholomew Rekindling the Spirit Youth Worker, Dr Vahid Saberi North Coast PHN Chief Executive.

Increasingly committed to addressing regional mental health issues, the federal government is allocating new funding of $115,000 to train Aboriginal Mental Health First Aid staff and expand the residential capacity of Namatjira Haven Drug and Alcohol Healing Centre.

Announcing the funding boost at Namatjira Haven, on the outskirts of Alstonville, Federal MP for Page Kevin Hogan said the training will be coordinated by the Indigenous organisation Rekindling the Spirit.

The mental health package of $31,910, along with $83,186 to expand the centre’s capacity from 14 to 16 beds, is provided through the North Coast Primary Health Network’s commissioning funds.

“Mental health is an issue for our entire community that I take very seriously and will continue to lobby to make sure we get the resources we need to help our Indigenous community,” Mr Hogan said.

“This funding will help build the skills of our local mental health and drug workforce so that they can more confidently respond to clients and build community resilience.”


The acclaimed exercise program NeuroMoves has announced that potential clients with spinal cord and similar disabilities will now be offered two-hour initial assessments free of charge.

The only requirement is for people to become members of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA), the organisation that runs the program that began operating last month from a dedicated gym space in Southern Cross University’s Health Clinic on the Lismore campus.

SCIA membership for people with a disability and their immediate family and carers is also free. Inquiries can also be directed to 1800 819 775 or locally to 0403 091 364.

Social Futures CEO Tony Davies with Kevin Hogan, Federal MP for Page, at the announcement of extra funding for youth mental health services.

The not-for-profit organisation Social Futures will now be managing the Lismore branch of the early intervention youth mental health service Headspace, with government funding also enabling an expansion of much-needed services to Casino and Kyogle.

On 9 March the Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan announced funding of almost $1.4 million, saying, “It is often difficult for young people in our smaller towns like Casino and Kyogle to access the services they need compared to those living near Lismore. These new services fill that gap”.

The funding follows last fortnight’s announcement of a new Headspace planned for Grafton, along with a number of other mental health programs that will service the Clarence Valley.